Fantastic Four // blog birthday+ giveaway

A photo of dozens of balloons in a blue sky, with the words 'Twist in the Taile blog birthday + giveaway' on top.

That’s right, folks, it’s that time of year again: PARTY TIME! *dances* I mean, one might say that party time is all year round, but the only time you can truly have a party is obviously on my blog birthday. No other parties count. (I joke. Please feel free to party whenever you like.)

Further down in this post I’m holding a bookish giveaway, but before I get onto that I’d like to say a little something about the last four years. (Do imagine that I’ve done that thing  where you tap the champagne glass to announce a speech, or something else equally fun.)

I’m pretty sure that I’ve said this before, but when I started this blog I really didn’t think I’d still be blogging four years later. I’d already had several failed attempts at a blog and I didn’t see why this would be any different. But! As you can see, here I am. I’ve gone through many reincarnations over here at Twist in the Taile, and of course I’m still evolving, but mostly I AM STILL WRITING THINGS. I am still talking to you all!

There is so much that I love about blogging — from writing funny posts to making pretty graphics — but I do still think that above all, my favourite thing is being able to connect with other awesome people. Although perhaps this blog might not be the fastest-growing it has given me a special and important place to share my thoughts, and some amazing friends. This wouldn’t be a blog if you readers weren’t here reading it. Thank you so much for supporting and educating me. ❤

Here are some things I have done over the last year:

  • Started listening to podcasts! Now they’re such an important part of the things I love & I can’t imagine what I’d do without them. It feels super weird that I only started them last year… (Among my favourites are Witch Please, The Adventure Zone, and The Penumbra Podcast.)
  • Started reading more comics which is very fun!
  • Actually, I’ve just read a lot of great books like When the Moon Was Ours (which I just reread, maybe even more woah that the first time), The Loneliest Girl in the Universe, The Hate U Give, Release, Queens of Geek, A Conjuring of Light… and SO MANY MORE. Y’all, I just really love books.
  • Went to my first Pride parade, which was kind of scary but also very cool. I’m so glad I went.
  • Also probably a lot of other stuff. But I am itching to get onto the giveaway and I know you are too, so LET US GO THERE.

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giveaway time!

To celebrate my 4th blog birthday, I am giving away one YA book from the following selection:

The winner of the giveaway will be able to pick any one from these six books, which are either a) books I have read and loved or b) books I think sound great and would very much like to read. You can click on the titles for more info. The giveaway is open to any country The Book Depository ships to; hopefully that includes you, but please check their list here.

Enter the giveaway HERE

The giveaway will end at midnight on 25th October (that’s two weeks’ time) so make sure you enter now! I wish you luck, and thanks for celebrating my blog birthday here with me today. If you have any memories or thoughts about my blog you’d like to share, then I’d love to here them. (And with your permission, I might include them in a follow-up post!)

which book would you pick? if you’re blogger, what’s your favourite thing about blogging? any thoughts about my blog?

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YALC 2017 Recap

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Okay, this post is going to be SUPER late by the time I’m able to post this, but NEVER MIND. On Saturday 28th July I was lucky enough to be able to attend YALC, the con in London for young adult books! And here is my round up of what I got up to!

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I attended YALC on the Saturday in 2015 but this year was SO MUCH BIGGER. The main difference I could see was that there were loads more stalls — publishers, authors, other bookish or nerdy companies — in addition to the panels and workshops. Although I’d been basically looking forward to it since the summer before when I’d missed it, I was pretty anxious. (Also, last time I went to a con I brought the wrong ticket which was yikes.) I think that did detract from my day a bit but I couldn’t really do anything about it.

 

When I arrived at about 9am, I basically just checked out the area. I managed to get my hands on the very last copy of Alex and Eliza by Melissa de la Cruz which I was very smug about. I also bought The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James and picked up a proof of The Fandom by Anna Day & Lumberjanes: Unicorn Power! by Mariko Tamaki as well as SO MANY free samplers and other swag. I didn’t want to take all my new books away with me so sadly I’ve only read The Loneliest Girl so far but I ADORED IT, and I’m super excited to read the others! These actually ended up being the only books I got (apart from Lying Out Loud by Kody Keplinger from the book swap). I do sort of regret not buying more books to be honest, but I had just had a mini haul in order to buy books to get signed at YALC, so. I also purchased a YALC 2016 t shirt even though I wasn’t there in 2016 because, well, I wanted a t shirt and liked the 2016 design more. 😛

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samplers I picked up

Next I met up with my friend who was a bit late due to sleeping in (#relatable am I right) (or not for me because I wake up at like 7am every single day) we headed off to the Publishing 102 workshop in the Agent Arena. 5 different people working in the literary and oublishing industry, from editor to designer to librarian, told us about their jobs and answered any questions. To be honest I don’t think I’ll work in publishing but it’s good to keep my options open and I thought it was really interesting! It must be really cool to work on such iconic book designs like The Fault in Our Stars which have become very important & recognisable in fandom spaces and stuff.

Next up after a very long queue for the toilets (okay but…why did they only have like 4 toilets for such a busy convention) was the Genre Bending panel with Zen Cho, VE Schwab, Ben a, Samantha Shannon and also two other people I didn’t know. I found it a bit difficult to hear from where I was but it was very interesting to hear about different genres and what genres actually are. 

Right after this I attended the Unconventional Romance panel with Ayisha Malik, Paige Toon, Patrice Lawrence & Jennifer E Smith. I enjoyed it, and it was cool to hear from Ayisha Malik because I’d bought her book Sofia Khan is Not Obliged to read whilst away so that got me excited. (Also, oh my goodness, I really need to read Indigo Donut.) Some parts were better than others and also, hi, it is I a tiny ace teenager who has never fallen in love so that’s not universal but yeah.

yalc 2017 books
books I got signed

I wish that I’d understood more about the Virtual Queueing system and got my VE Schwab and Laini Taylor tickets in between those two panels as then I’d have been able to get my stuff signed, but sadly I had to skip getting my Laini Taylor books signed because the queue was just too long. However, I did get my books signed by Lauren James, Zen Cho, and later on VE Schwab which I’m so happy about!

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galactic makeover time

Whilst waiting I got a fun galactic makeover, themed to The Loneliest Girl in the Universe, so here I am all sparkly for you. Fun fun.

Now the Teen Bloggers Chat meetup! I was SUPER excited for this & I was very sad to arrive late, sorry guys. But, you know, I really did want those VE Schwab books signed. I was a bit of an awkward bean but it was so lovely to meet everyone, and I hope we can meet again at some point (???).

After this I headed off to the Books That Made Me panel with VE Schwab, Joanne Harris & Laini Taylor. I hadn’t realised it was going to be about, like, formative books you’ve read? So that was a surprise. But it was still cool. And finally I stayed to the end to watch Non Pratt shave her head for charity, and also to not see Benedict Cumberbatch because I didn’t realise what was going on. I thought I didn’t care but APPARENTLY I DO STILL CARE.

Overall I had a fab time, despite being a bit stressed and anxious, and I hope that I can attend again to see YALC grow even more. Now go check out some fab recaps by Jess @ Bookends and Endings and Amber @ The Mile Long Bookshelf, and you can also watch video footage of ME in the wild at the #teenbloggerschat meetup. Please do link your YALC recap below, I’d love to read it!

did you go to yalc? have you been to another book event? would you like to?

PS. I know I’m technically on hiatus, but I thought it would be a good idea to post this whilst YALC was still vaguely fresh in our minds. I plan to be fully returning at the end of August with my summer favourites. 🙂

The Mid-Year Freak Out Book Tag

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It might be a little past mid-year, but PFFT. All of summer is basically the same, right? 😉 Thanks so much to Bex @ My Shelf & Myself for tagging me, and can we all just take a second to appreciate that amazing blog name. 😍 Now onto the books!

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Best book you’ve read so far in 2017

the hate u give

OH MAN. I have no idea how to choose! I think that The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, Release by Patrick Ness, Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg and Our Dark Duet & A Conjuring of Light by VE Schwab are among my favourites so far.

Best sequel of 2017 so far

a conjuring of light

I just finished Lord of Shadows which I loved, and I also adored Our Dark Duet, but I’d have to say A Conjuring of Light by VE Schwab. I love the world & characters so much and reading that book was just such a thrilling experience. It made me so glad that I can have such awesome fan experiences.

New release you haven’t read yet but want to

want cindy pon

Want by Cindy Pon sounds SO EXCELLENT. It’s a scifi book set in the futuristic Taiwan! Which is super cool! I would really like to read more scifi that isn’t a futuristic UK/US. Also, the cover is SO NICE.

Most anticipated release of the second half of 2017

the loneliest girl in the universe

The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James. I adored The Next Together duology by Lauren James and I am so excited for her new novel! I’ve been snooping around on Tumblr where the author is posting related stuff and…I think there’s going to be fandom? SCI FI FANDOM HECK YEAH. I am also SUPER EXCITED for Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore.

Biggest disappointment

railhead

Railhead by Philip Reeve was one of the books I was most excited for on the Carnegie list. It started off with a cool premise — SCIFI, TRAINS, STEAMPUNK — but I ended up not really being engaged with the storyline or characters. I also maintain that the future is definitely more queer, okay?

Biggest surprise

the smell of other people's houses
I wasn’t expecting to like The Smell of Other People’s Houses but I actually ADORED and DEVOURED it.  It’s set in 70s Alaska which I didn’t know much about at all, and it tells the story of a bunch of different teenagers and the way their lives intersect. I LIKE THESE KINDS OF CROSSING STORIES A LOT, OKAY.

Favourite new author (debut or new to you)

bone gap laura ruby
Laura Ruby already has some books released, but Bone Gap was the first novel I’d read by her, and I enjoyed it a lot! I look forward to reading any new works of hers. 🙂

Newest favourite character

the last beginning
There was also a question here for ‘newest fictional crush’ but I don’t get crushes haha, so I merged it with my favourite character! I adore both Clove and Ella from The Last Beginning by Lauren James. I LOVE READING ABOUT QUEER GIRLS IN STEM IT MAKES MY HEART SING WITH JOY. I’m also still in love with Kell and Lila and Rhy but hey, that’s not new. 😉

Book that made you cry

release patrick ness
I don’t think I actually cried whilst reading it (because I am a stone cold human who never cries reading books) but Release by Patrick Ness made me feel a lot of emotions. It was just one of those books that reminded me so much of my own feelings — in a way that was both painful and wonderful? (Our Dark Duet)

Book that made you happy

and a happy new year
The Spinster Club series by Holly Bourne has always given me a lot of joy, adn the series finale …And a Happy New Year? was no exception. Of course there was no shortage of crises, and it wasn’t a completely happy ending, but it reminded me of how awesome feminism and friendship are.

Favourite book to movie adaptation you’ve seen this year

a monster calls
I think the only book to movie adaptation I’ve seen this year is A Monster Calls? (Based on the book by Patrick Ness & Siobhan Dowd.) It wasn’t my favourite movie ever, but I thought the filming was very pretty & it made me feel all the things.

Favourite review you’ve written this year

Erm, I don’t actually write reviews! Maybe I can go through my Goodreads and find one, wait… Okay, no, I don’t know how to search through and read this.

Most beautiful book you bought or received this year

girl of ink and stars
Alas, I only borrowed it from the library, but The Girl of Ink and Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave is SO BEAUTIFUL in its physical form. Not only is the cover beautiful — the pages are also such nice quality & there are map illustrations and GAH SO NICE. Also, I bought my friend a new 20th anniversary Ravenclaw copy of Harry Potter and the Philospher’s Stone and to be honest I thought that was pretty awesome.

Books you need to read by the end of this year

when dimple met rishi

OH MY GOODNESS. SO MANY. SO MANY.
When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon I have this on my Kindle & I’m going to read it on holiday!
Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore AAAH I KNOW I ALREADY MENTIONED THIS BUT I’M SO EXCITED.
Honor Girl by Maggie Thrash This was only just released in the UK, aah, and it sounds wonderful.
Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee Webseries creator! Internet people! Asexual characters!
Not Your Sidekick by C.B. Lee I’ve been meaning to read this for ages becayse it sounds AWESOME.
And also a TON more because ALL THE BOOKS YESSSSS. I couldn’t possible fit them all on here. 😛

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I’m not tagging anyone because a) as some of you might know I find tagging people a bit stressful haha and b) it is, erm, not really mid-year anymore, so I’d feel a bit awkward. I do hope you enjoyed this post!

how has your bookish year been so far? do you have a favourite book of 2017 yet?

YALC 2017 TBR

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In a month’s time I’m going to be attending YALC, the UKYA book con in London, and I am SO SO EXCITED. There are so many cool authors attending! And it looks like I have a lot of reading to do in the month to come if I want to be caught up on the authors present… I started making this TBR but I had so many books that I had to cut down, so this isn’t an extensive list but rather the ones I thought sounded post interesting.

unconventional

Unconventional by Maggie Harcourt Is that title a con pun? Yes, yes it is. This book is being billed as the UKYA Fangirl which makes me very excited! I adore nerd stories! I also recently spotted this in the library which is rad.

strange the dreamer

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor I’ve been wanting to read this for SO LONG but it’s not in the library and the hardcover is kind of expensive, eek. I might just have to give in, though; I adore Laini Taylor’s writing and this sounds amazing.

the fallen children

The Fallen Children by David Owen I’m not sure if I’ll be creeped out by the supernatural themes — I believe it’s a retelling of The Midwich Cuckoos? — but the concept sounds super cool. It actually crossed my radar after Alice Oseman recced it! Plus, the paperback comes in loads of different copies, which is fun.

girlhood

Girlhood by Cat Clarke Cat Clarke is one of my longest UKYA loves — I used to read a lot of her books on Kindle! But I don’t have any in physical form which is super sad. Anyway, I’m keen to read this thriller, and I think it also might also have LGBTQ+ characters? *thumbs up*

barefoot-on-the-wind

Barefoot on the Wind by Zoe Marriott Another author I used to read a lot of when I was younger! I heard Zoe Marriott talk about this at YA Shot (it’s a Beauty and the Beast retelling set in fairytale Japan) and it really persuaded me, so I hope to finally get my hands on it.

sorcerer to the crown

Sorcerer to the Crown & The Terracotta Bride, both by Zen Cho Okay, so I’m kind of cheating and putting two in one… But I REALLY WANT TO READ THEM BOTH, EEP.  I haven’t been reading much fantasy recently so I’d really like to read Sorcerer to the Crown, and I’ve heard cool things about The Terracotta Bride. Also, um, ‘robot reincarnation in the Chinese afterlife’? SIGN ME UP.

doing it

Doing It by Hannah Witton I’m not a massive YouTube-watcher but I do think Hannah Witton is super cool, and I hope I get to meet her! I’m not personally super interested in sex but I think it’s important to learn about relationships & other issues, so yay!

truth or dare

Truth or Dare by Non Pratt I adore Non Pratt’s other books, and I’m very excited to read this! I’ve actually already bought a copy of it from the bookshop and I was so excited when I picked it up because OMG THERE’S TWO COVERS ON TWO SIDES. YOU FLIP THE BOOK AROUND TO READ THE SECOND HALF. Cool, right?! Yeah, I totally go in for gimmicks, what can I say. *shrugs* Plus, I believe it has an ace aro character which is AWESOME.

needlework

Needlework by Deirdre Sullivan I hadn’t heard anything about this book before looking at the YALC author list, but I had a peek at the blurb and it sounds fascinating! Hopefully I can get hold of  a copy at some point because also the cover is soo gorgeous.

open gemma cairner.jpg

Open by Gemma Cairney I actually met Gemma Cairney when I spoke at the WoW festival on Southbank which was very exciting!! To be honest, I still can’t really believe that happened. This sounds like another rad non-fiction book — and I am trying to read more non-fiction at the moment. 🙂

I definitely have a lot of reading to do if I’m going to make any progress in my TBR over the next month, haha. *sweats a bit* HELP ME, Y’ALL.

are you going to yalc? would you like to? have you read any of these?

TBR Update // books with lgbtq+ characters

Yes! I’m talking about books! A new and exciting thing! Okay, not really. I’ve been feeling pretty exhausted so far this week because of exams, so I thought it would be nice to just sit down and be excited about books. 😀 Also, it is Pride Month, and I am feeling Extra Queer — WHAT COULD BE BETTER?!

There are so many awesome books with LGBTQ+ characters that I hope to read in the near future. (Mostly YA.) I started compiling a list of books for this post and I ended up with SOO MANY. There’s a lot of wonderful LGBTQ+ YA out there!

wild beauty

Wild Beauty by Anna Marie McLemore I’ve talked about it several times here, but I absolutely loved When the Moon Was Ours by this author. It was one of my favourite books of last year! Wild Beauty sounds amazing, and I can’t wait to read more of McLemore’s beautiful writing when it releases in October. The cover is also SO BEAUTIFUL, AAH.

little & lion

Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert I found this book scrolling through my TBR on my tumblr, and I’m so glad I did. It’s girl who falls in love with the girl her brother is also in love with; the MC is black and Jewish, and although I haven’t heard much about it I really look forward to its release in August!

we are okay

We Are Okay by Nina LaCour This is another author I’m returning to — Everything Leads to You was a wonderful queer girl story which made my heart sing with joy. This one sounds like a really interesting and nuanced read, and I also absolutely ADORE the cover. (What can I say?)

queens of geek

Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde I LOVE NERD BOOKS. I think that cons and nerd spaces are really cool because the experiences I’ve had have been pretty queer-friendly. AND I AM JUST EXCITED FOR GEEKY STUFF, because yay. Also, this has an Autistic narrator, and one of the MCs is Chinese-Australian which is cool!

peter darling

Peter Darling by Austin Chant A trans retelling of Peter Pan! Aah! I admit, I don’t have any particularly strong feelings about Peter Pan, but I’m super excited to see what this book does.

our own private universe

Our Own Private Universe by Robin Talley I love reading happy queer stories, especially ones with queer girls! This sounds super cute, and I’ve heard that it also discusses safe sex which is awesome. (Because my sex ed at school basically only explaining straight/cisgender/allosexual things in terms of sex. We did have one lesson on, like, LGBTQ+ stuff though? So I guess it’s improving.)

juliet takes a breath

Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera I HAVE BEEN WANTED TO READ THIS FOR AGES. It’s about a gay Puerto Rican girl, Juliet, figuring herself out, in which there are many queer ladies. YAY.

the midnight star

The Midnight Star by Marie Lu I’ve actually already read the first two books in this trilogy, but for some reason I never finished it… So I need to do that! The last book finished on a bit of a cliffhanger, if I remember.

the color purple

The Color Purple by Alice Walker I feel like I’m really missing something reading this… It’s one of the Important Books You Should Read, and I JUST REALLY WANT TO READ IT. *nods a lot* (Yes. This entire post is essentially just ‘I REALLY WANT TO READ THIS AND THIS AND THIS.’)

tash hearts tolstoy

Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee This reminds me that…I REALLY NEED TO LOOK INTO WAR & PEACE THINGS. I love the Great Comet of 1812 musical which is based off War & Peace, but I do find the book rather daunting. Anyway. Not actually this book. This book is about internet people! I love people on the internet. And from what I understand, there’s asexual representation, which is awesome since I haven’t seen that very often.

There were SO MANY other awesome books that I didn’t get the time to include in this post, alas! But there are many wonderful books with LGBTQ+ characters around and that makes me super happy. If you have any recs or just want to chat about books then I’d love to hear them! ❤

The Goodreads Book Tag

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As far as I am aware, I wasn’t directly tagged to do this (who even knows at this point) but I spotted it on The Writing Hufflepuff and thought I’d give it a try! It also gave me an excuse to update my Goodreads, so. 😉

girl of ink and stars

What was the last book you marked as read?

The last book I marked as read was The Girl of Ink and Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave, which for once actually is the last book I read haha. I thought it was beautiful, magical and wonderfully-written without being really over the top. I also loved the characters! Just in general a lovely book. (And it’s SO NICE to hold in the physical copy, oh my goodness. Not only is the cover beautiful but also the paper is super nice quality and it has map drawings??)

the stars at oktober bend

What are you currently reading?

I’m currently reading The Stars at Oktober Bend by Glenda Millard. I’m still doing Carnegie Medal Shadowing at school, even though a) it’s at a very inconvenient time this year and b) I’m not super impressed with how Carnegie picked an all-white longlist this year. :/ So, I don’t really know why I’m still doing it. BUT. Here I am. It’s okay, although I…don’t really understand what’s happening, and I really hope it isn’t going to be a ‘romance makes everything okay!!’ narrative because those are deeply frustrating.

Do you use the star rating system?

Mostly, yes! I haven’t got round to rating most of the recent books I’ve read though, since I’m mainly just trying to keep my Goodreads up to date and that takes some thinking. *sweats*

Are you doing the 2017 reading challenge?

I am! I think I’ve picked 100 books for this year, although I think it’s very likely that I’ll achieve it since normally I read about 120 books a year. But I don’t want to stress myself out, and 100 is a nice number, so I think that’s a solid goal. 🙂

Do you have a wishlist?

A…book wishlist? I mean, ALWAYS. But not a specific to-be-bought list on Goodreads. Just a mental one.

Who are your favorite authors?

HOW CAN I CHOOOSE. Probably Alice Oseman, VE Schwab, Rainbow Rowell, Leigh Bardugo, Malinda Lo, Jandy Nelson, Patrick Ness… But SO MANY MORE. And I also really love individual books by authors, even if I haven’t read their other work. (Like When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore, and The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas and The Miseducation of Cameron Post by em danforth.) (Honestly, I just know I’m going to miss some glaringly obvious thing out. THIS IS SO MEAN.)

Have you joined any groups?

Nope, I don’t think so. I have no idea how they work haha.

How many Goodreads shelves do you have?

Er, apparently twenty plus the to read, read, and currently reading. This comprises of genres, reread shelves before the reread function existed, random stuff like cool covers, and Carnegie Shadowing shelves. I should probably organise them better, but.

I’m not tagging anyone but if you feel like doing this then please do go ahead, it was great fun! ❤

how are you? if you’re a reader, do you use goodreads? and do you like star rating books?

Yes, I Love YA

I can’t count the number of times that, when I have told people that I mostly read Young Adult books, they’ve turned to me and said something like: “Don’t you think they’re a bit trashy? When are you going to start reading real books?”

About three years ago, someone in the bookshop said that I was going to run out of YA books to read, and that I should start on adult. I bought a few adult books, and I did enjoy them, but fast forward to today and I’m still reading mainly YA. And wonderful YA is still being written.

I really hate the idea that YA and children’s books are somehow less worthwhile than the ones in the adult section. Okay, they’re pretty much all narrated by teens and young people. But what’s wrong with that? We have lives that are just as complex as anyone else’s, and we deserve a voice — we deserve to read about people who are also going through a period of testing boundaries and discovering yourself. In some ways, it seems to me the most interesting age a narrator can be.

Putting down YA books only puts down young people and their voices, when we should be doing exactly the opposite! When people start to say that we’re just mindlessly addicted to social media and don’t have any opinions beyond celebrities, it’s just discouraging us from speaking up.

Having a younger narrator doesn’t mean a book is any less worth reading, or any less interesting. In fact, YA books cover a wide range of complex, important themes but in a way that’s really accessible. Yep, a book can be readable and nuanced! Writing an awesome YA book isn’t any less work than writing an adult novel; there are just so many different genres within each of those brackets.

Maybe reading YA doesn’t require as much consideration as a novel with Victorian language might, but personally I think it’s really difficult to get a love for reading by starting straight with ‘classics’. I really appreciate that some people love them, but personally — and I say this as someone who has always loved books — they take me a while to get through, and a while to understand and get into.

But I’m not reading to learn life lessons, or how to write a book. I’m not even reading to improve my English. I’m reading to enjoy it. To experience stories beyond my own. Reading for pleasure doesn’t come from an adult telling you that you should put down the book you want to read and pick the ‘better’ one they’ve chosen for you instead. Discovering the stories that get you excited is so important, and it’s difficult to do that when your school limits what you can read by the complexity of a book’s sentence structure.

If you want kids to develop a love of reading, then let them read what they love. Perhaps reading one genre will lead to them becoming interesting in another, or perhaps they’ll just love that book — it doesn’t matter. Sharing stories is what matters.

I think that YA fiction is one of the most exciting, diverse genres — we definitely do still have progress to make, as we always do, not just within the books but in authors and publishing as well — and it’s so important for teens to be able to see themselves in books. YA can give a sense of belonging and validation. It can tell young people (and older people) that they’re not alone. There are just so many goddamn amazing YA novels out there.

So before you tell me that my favourite books are trash: maybe pick up a YA book yourself. You might actually enjoy it.

The School Book Tag

school book tag.jpg

I was tagged to do this tag absolutely AGES ago — back in September, I think — by Engie @ Musings From Neville’s Navel, and it was originally created by Chloe Lauren @ Diary of a Lonely Girl.  NaNoWriMo is slightly eating up my time so I thought it would be a good idea to do a fun post like this! (Although all my posts are fun, obvs, sometimes my brain needs a bit of a break.) (I’m also listening to Leslie Odom Jr’s Christmas album as I write this. It’s beautiful. Don’t judge me.)

radio silence alice oseman

MATHS

a book that has two characters who equal perfection

I think this was supposed to be, like, a romantic couple, but I’m going to go ahead and say FRANCES AND ALED FROM RADIO SILENCE. I know I talk about this book basically every other post but it is awesome and you should all definitely read it. (I think I’ve written this sentence a lot in this post, haha.) Aled and Frances are basically just friend goals and I love them. They have problems but they’re asdfjkl so cute and great and nerdy.

miseducation of cameron post

BIOLOGY

a book I would like to dissect

Science was originally just one category — a book you found hard to get into — but I decided to add a couple of my own because I AM ACTUALLY A REALLY BIG SCIENCE NERD. I like busting science stereotypes, and I also like more sciences, so here we are. (I do hope that’s okay!)

Anyway! I’m going to go with The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M Danforth. I have been thinking a lot about this book lately since I somehow persuaded my friends that it was super cool and now their school English book group is reading it? But it reminded me HOW MUCH I FREAKING LOVE IT. It’s literally an amazing book. The reason I chose it for this option, which was kinda supposed to be a book that you love to pick apart, turn over, and analyse, is because IT HAS SO MANY PARTS. It’s super well-written, and it has such circular kind of narrative. (That’s probably the wrong word. Maybe I should say it comes full circle. Oh well.) Whilst still being a coming out book of sorts, it subverts so many tropes that I don’t like to read in traditional coming out-y books… It’s just an incredibly nuanced and beautiful story. YOU ALL SHOULD READ IT ASAP.

barefoot-on-the-wind

PHYSICS

a book with a lot of potential

This one is supposed to be an unreleased/unread book that sounds super cool. I’m choosin Barefoot on the Wind by Zoe Marriott! I saw Zoe at YA Shot and that basically rekindled my intense love for her books. THEY ARE ALL GREAT AND I HIGHLY RECOMMEND. This is the sequel to Shadow on the Moon, a fantasy Cinderella retelling in Japan. (Also includes the first trans character I ever read, I think…? Which I only realised like super recently.) Barefoot on the Wind is a Beauty and the Beast retelling in the same world, with feminism and cool original spins. She talked about it a bunch at the fantasy/women/power panel I attended and it just made me really hyped.

the-next-together

CHEMISTRY

a book I really bonded to

#sorrynotsorry for my extremely bad science jokes. We’ve been learning bonding in Chemistry at schools so it is really on my mind. For this one I’m picking The Next Together by Lauren James, which was an incredibly enjoyable read for me because it just HAD SO MANY THINGS I LIKE. Time travel! Humour! Science! History! Cute people being cute! Reincarnation! The premise was just amazing. It fits me so well. (I am also very excited for its sequel which also has QUEER GIRLS which is EVEN MORE MEEEE.)

aristotle and dante

ENGLISH

a book that should be a modern classic

Ooh there are SO MANY books I could have gone with here, but I really love Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. I think it get quits a lot of recommendations, but it really does deserve it — it’s such a beautifully written, nuanced, and complex book. (But also really readable.) Literally just everything I want to read? It should definitely be a modern classic. And also more people should read Benjamin Alire Saenz’s other books too, because they are also excellent. *nods*

gena-finn

P.E.

a book that I raced to the finish with

I recently read Gena/Finn by Hannah Moskowitz and Kat Helgeson and it was very cool. 😀 It’s written in like, messages and journal entries? So it was a pretty fast read — and also the story was just page-turning in itself. (Exceedingly-beautiful-page turning. The physical edition of this book is literally SO BEAUTIFUL, guys.)

carry on uk cover

MUSIC

a book that reminds me of a song

I feel like this post is basically just me repeating all the books that I always talk about but…Carry On by Rainbow Rowell. I was already listening to Rainbow’s Carry On playlist before the book actually came out. Every time I open the book I just think of all the songs with Carry On. (Carry On My Wayward Son, Carry On, Bohemian Rhapsody.) All Rainbow’s books have music things in them, actually, but this one in particular for me.

I’m tagging Lia @ Lost in a Story, Michelle @ The Writing Hufflepuff and absolutely anyone else who wants to give this a try! Although, as ever, please don’t feel pressured to do this tag; it’s totally up to you. 🙂

what’s YOUR favourite school subject? what do you think of science? are you doing nanowrimo/shrieking incessantly like me?

On Banned Books & Censoring Teen Fiction

I’ve always had a lot of thoughts about censoring YA and children’s literature. For me, books covering subjects which are maybe less accepted in day-to-day life are so important. I’m a big believer in not banning books, especially kid’s ones, because very often those are ones which have very important messages. (Plus: if you ban a book, it just makes kids want to read it more. So obviously not a good tactic.)

Anyway. I once read an interview with an author who I will strategically not name saying that children’s innocence should be protected… and I’m just like NO. Books are not about protecting innocence. Books are not about sheltering kids from the world around them — because yes, there are bad things happening in the world. Death exists. I think that it is so, so important to learn about the existence of suffering because if you just wait until you’re an adult then YOU WILL KNOW NOTHING. It’s going to be a big shock when you discover that, you know, sometimes pain actually exists. Sometimes you will experience pain.

I so dislike the assumption that children’s and adult’s books must be completely separate — that I can’t deal with ‘adult’ books. I’m often very frustrated by the age restrictions that appear everywhere. (I used to add, like, 3 years to my age or whatever.) One of my friends has been turned away from looking at the YA section in a bookshop because the assistant thought she looked too young. You can’t pick and choose your audience simply based on age, because…people don’t work like that? WE’RE ALL REALLY DIFFERENT. Some are more ready to read things than others, and that’s 100% okay.

We don’t want to be pushed away from books. We don’t want you to tell us that we can’t read George Orwell because the sentence structure is too simple for our reading level. Newsflash: sometimes, like, you actually can’t just judge books using a machine? Sometimes there are complex ideas behind them? All this red tape just doesn’t make sense to me. I think it is important to let people know what is inside — for instance, The Bunker Diary by Kevin Brooks (whilst for me a fascinating book) has literally no indication of the horrors inside. And I think perhaps a little warning of that would be nice, because then people know what they’re getting into and they can make a decision for themselves about whether to read it.

But we can judge for ourselves what we are able to read. Kids & teens are sensible people! If something is making me upset then I will put the book down, or skip ahead a section. We’re good at knowing what’s appropriate for us; it isn’t just like watching a movie passively. You actively have to make the decision to keep reading.

The thing which sparked me to return to this post — which has been stewing in the back of my mind for ages — was a review marking a book with a bi MC for junior & senior high readers only. This cropped up on Twitter, and it was approximately the worst time for the magazine to publish this because HELLO BI AWARENESS WEEK. You might have already seen it going around twitter. But it is…wrong in so many ways. It’s not particular to this reviewer, though; sadly from my experience it’s a rather common theme that queer = mature. That makes me really sad. Like, according to this review I shouldn’t be reading this book. It definitely makes sense to stop bi teens from, like, actually reading about themselves for once. God forbid it give them a little hope.

I just. Queer characters are not mature content; they are not to be filtered out. LGBTQ+ people exist just as straight ones do. Queer books have honestly been my lifeline. Information is super cool and all, but — books are books. Endlessly not seeing yourself in books is sad.

I would like queer books to be recommended alongside any other book. Their stories have just as much worth. We shouldn’t be protecting kids from them — I mean, if anything, we should be writing and supporting more queer kid lit. For my 11-year old self to not think that randomly choosing a crush on a boy was the only option.

Also, as I was writing this post I came across the ALA Banned Books week, which is actually running over this week! Interestingly, they even have a section about diverse books which are frequently challenged. A good number of the top 10 challenged books feature homosexuality as a legitimate reason to ban the book. *scowls* rest assured that I’m really looking forward to all the cool Banned Books stuff happening!

Stories are so important. Don’t filter them out just because you think someone else won’t like them.

One Page More! E01: Politics & Government in YA

one page more 2.jpg

One more book, one more page…one page more!

*punches the air in enthusiasm* I’m so excited to finally be sharing with you guys my new podcast. 😀 (Yes. Podcast. EXCITING TIMES.) One Page More! is a monthly podcast in which I  — along with various bookish and bloggerly guests — talk about YA, musicals, and social issues. Essentially, as I so eloquently put, all the things that I love. 😛 We’ll hopefully be covering all sorts from new releases to particular topics and random chatter. For the inaugural episode, I was joined by the wonderful Elly @ A Hufflepuff’s Thoughts and Victoria @ Doodles and Scraps to discuss politics & government in YA. Go forth and listen, my friends!

I do hope that you enjoy, and I also hope that this will continue to grow and develop as I work on it. I have a lot of things to learn — okay, next time I seriously do need to say ‘like’ and ‘um’ less — but I’m excited to be sharing flailings with you in a different format. (Also compose another jingle.

Also: I’m on the lookout for people to guest with me, so if you think that would be your cup of tea then do give a shout by commenting below; I’d love to hear from you! 😀